A front door at the front of the house with a front garden and a fireplace in the living room – these are some of the ideal home features on a wish list drawn up by children in care in Hampshire.
They have had a key role in the designs of four new homes that will help protect vulnerable young people from harm. The new homes will be built in Andover, Chandler’s Ford, Dibden Purlieu and Havant at a cost of £4.5million.
The project appraisals and designs were considered by Councillor Keith Mans, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services on 22 October 2014.
The County Council wants to establish a standard of care that is on a par with a good, family environment for the children, some of them having experienced the most traumatic of childhoods. The homes provide good, consistent parenting from trained and experienced staff in a stable environment. The quality of accommodation is crucial to this.
Councillor Mans said: “Children in care are among the most vulnerable in any community and we regard their care as one of our most important responsibilities.”
“The vast majority of the 1,130 children and young people in our care are well looked after by foster parents in family homes, but there is a small minority whose needs are far better met being looked after in a safe and comfortable environment by dedicated professional staff, with the right level of expertise, personality and commitment to caring.”
“When I considered the plans for this first phase of our programme of investment I scrutinised the designs to ensure the finished properties will meet high standards of construction, be energy efficient and, perhaps more importantly, that the architects have listened to the wish list that children drew up during the consultation process as part of the development of our Residential Strategy – a strategy that Ofsted highlighted as evidence of the Council’s commitment to residential care as a positive choice for these young people.”
The new homes will be smaller than existing children’s homes that are too large, lack a homely environment or are no longer up to standard. Some of the current homes are in less than ideal locations, isolated from local services and amenities. The properties to be built will be near to good transport links, within walking distance of schools and make access to leisure activities easier, enabling young people to develop their independence safely. They will also reduce the need to send children to out of county placements which can be miles away.
This project is the first phase in the County Council’s radical plans to transform its children’s home provision in the county. Each property will be home to four young people and accommodate the staff that care for them.
Designed by Hampshire County Council’s in-house Property Services teams, plans for the new properties have taken into account features that children in care said would be important to them in a family home, such as having a front door at the front of the house and a fireplace in the living room.